January 01, 2011

My Sippy Cup Habit

My switch to sippy cups wasn't planned. The kids were still toddlers, and I wanted some orange juice as I headed out early one morning, and the fancy travel mug that always leaks and dribbles onto my tie was dirty, and I was in a hurry.

I’d like to say there was a moment when I recognized the wisdom of the sippy—when I had to to avoid a deer on the snowy road, for instance, and my juice shot harmlessly out of my hand into the windshield as I swerved to safety—but in truth there was no such turning point. I just gradually came to appreciate that the sippy cup made a lot more sense than the stainless travel mug.

It fits in the cup holders. It doesn’t break if you drop it on the pavement as you get out of the car. And no matter how forcefully and awkwardly it falls, it never leaks more than a drop or two. Nothing compares: next time you’re in Starbucks, see how tightly that little white lid clings to your cup when somebody in need of caffeine opens a door into you.

I am a grown-up, and I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I don’t gnaw on the bit that fits into my mouth, so my sippies are free of tooth marks. My cup never has that slimy sheen that reveals its owner as someone who hasn’t yet adopted the fork. Those little vacuum plugs that prevent leakage entirely? Not in my cup—those are for babies.

Occasionally when I’m at a stoplight, head tilted back, cheeks pumping slightly while I suckle an iced coffee, I’ll sense another driver looking at me. At first I suspected mockery, but I finally confronted one of these gapers by peeking sideways around my cup. I took him in: the gleaming chrome chopper, the leather tassels blowing gently, the studded gloves working the throttle, the impossibly small, hemispherical helmet. When our eyes finally met, I saw only deferential respect, and sure enough he flashed the peace sign before roaring away.

Recently I set a sippy on the conference table when I joined a video call with some European colleagues at 4:30 in the morning. It was the green one with the hot pink lid, and I like to think it added some color to an otherwise dry meeting.

Our kids drink their milk out of glasses now, and for years my wife had been threatening to throw away the battered sippies. She finally did on Christmas Eve. A lesser man might have made a scene, but I trusted in my spouse’s love. In my stocking the following morning I found two new Gerbers: the top-of-the-line, 12-ounce models.

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